It’s been a little while since we brought you a guest contributor so we’ve got one of our friends to pick out a track from their collection to feature, and I’m sure you’ll agree – it’s a banger!
Who is our guest I hear you ask? Well it’s none other than Mr Kris Holmes. Kris is a musician, record collector & DJ based in Auckland, New Zealand. Specializing in 45s, Kris has been collecting 45s for 20 years & tries to travel overseas to DJ & pursue 45s as often as possible. He curates the website Greenville & Beyond (www.greenvilleandbeyond.wordpress.com), hosts the Sunday Shuffle Soul & Funk Show on Radio Ponsonby (www.radioponsonby.co.nz) – Sundays 2pm – 4pm NZ time. Kris has also released his own funk 45s every so often (in fact he is the man behind one of our favourite funk 45s of the last few years – Elder William Smith) and is also involved with the New Zealand Soul All-Dayer events (www.facebook.com/thenzsoulalldayer?fref=ts) So let’s hear from the man himself:
Just what the world needed in the mid-60s was another version of Fever, but you know I’m really glad they took the time to lay down this blistering Latin Soul take, because although I have a fair number of versions of the song on 45 this one is kind of unique.
Along with Celia Cruz, La Lupe was Tito Puente’s “other” female vocalist in the 60s. Cutting tracks with Puente for the Tico label, Lupe was billed as the featured vocalist & performer on many of the later tracks she cut fronting Puente’s band. Although Celia Cruz can often be seen as an important female figure instrumental in growing the role of women in Latin music, it can sometimes be overlooked that La Lupe also played a vital role in this aspect during the 1960s but ultimately was a much more acquired, dramatic & somewhat chaotic figure which perhaps undermines her importance somewhat.
Bringing a performance & vocal style which was slightly more, shall we say “unhinged” than the norm (which kind of says a lot when you think of some of the fiery Latin vocalists of the era), La Lupe enjoyed massive success through the 1960s.
Guadalupe Victoria Yoli Raymond was born of partial French descent in Cuba in 1942. After cutting her teeth as a Cabaret singer in Havana as a teen, she moved to New York in 1962 where she was discovered by Mongo Santamaria & quickly recorded with him for Riverside. In 1964, unwilling to tour Puerto Rico with Santamaria, she jumped ship to Puente with whom she cut a number of hit sides on the Tico label until 1968 when Puente, tired of her crazy antics & unpredictable temper tantrums fired her. Following a very brief time with Machito’s Orchestra, La Lupe then seemed to fade into obscurity for nine years until she reunited successfully with Machito & Puente in 1977 for a short lived but momentarily successful comeback attempt.
Sadly, La Lupe fell into a state of depression in the final decade of her life, with obesity, poverty & drug abuse causing her added pain on top of losing her career in the Latin music world. Sadly, La Lupe passed away in 1992.
For me, her version of Fever really shows what La Lupe was all about, a firecracker of a Latin Soul 45 born out of an R&B classic, the sort of concoction born out of New York’s musical melting pot of the 1960s. From the opening “cackle” & exclamations of “Gahrooby baby, Gahrooby!!” to the rolled “r’s” of La Lupe’s heavily accented English & the seeming effortless lapses into Spanish language verse. Then when the bugalu kicks in with La Lupe’s call & response with the male vocalists, it just blazes. Everything which is killer about Latin Soul/Bugalu is confined within the 2m38s of this 45. So turn it up, BARBARO indeed!